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Outdoor Activities In Somerset

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Whilst Somerset may not be the first county that springs to mind for outdoor adventures, it may surprise you! With over 4000 square kilometres of landscapes that feature a National Park (Exmoor), two impressive gorges (notably Cheddar Gorge), Glastonbury Tor, the highest sea cliffs on mainland Britain, and the cities of Bath and Bristol amongst others, it’s fair to say Somerset has a lot to offer.

Outdoor Activities in Somerset

With gently rolling hills covering much of the county, interspersed with some dramatic gorges, a tor and various watercourses, there are plenty of great opportunities for outdoor activities and adventures for all levels.
outdoor activities in Somerset

Walking in Somerset

As the largest gorge in the UK it’s no surprise that there’s some great walks in around Cheddar Gorge, with some fantastic views of both the gorge itself and the landscape spreading out below it. That’s if you can face tackling the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder to get there! If you’d like a touch of the magical and mythical with your hiking, then head up Glastonbury Tor, where it’s views are second only to the legends. Jesus is said to have come here with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, who himself is later said to have buried the Holy Grail here. Later King Arthur is also said to have come here after his final battle, with monks claiming to have found his body in 1191. For those who prefer nature to do the talking, Exmoor National Park has something to offer all tastes, whether you like coastal rambles, riverside walks, open moorland or mystical woodland. Try Gallox Bridge near Dunster for more gentle wooded hills, County Gate on the Somerset/Devon border for some open moorland with sea views or Tarr Steps near Dulverton for a scenic river walk and a very photogenic ancient monument. If hills are your thing then Dunkery Hill is the highest on Exmoor and well worth the climb, or if you like a literary backdrop to your walks then head to Badgworthy Water near Malmsmead, which inspired RD Blackmore in his famous novel Lorna Doone. See more Walking in Somerset
outdoor activities and mountain biking in Somerset

Mountain biking in Somerset

Mountain bikers are well served by Exmoor National Park, the Blackdown Hills, the Quantocks and the Mendips, with the varied terrain offering a great mix of rides to suit all abilities, with many man-made trails on offer, particularly in the Quantocks. The Leigh Woods are also worth a visit for less-experienced riders, featuring the great Yer Tiz trail, a moderate blue grade route winding through the peaceful woodland here. For those looking for something trickier and the odd drop or two, head to the area between Bridgewater and Taunton. See more Mountain Biking in Somerset


For those looking for more gentle rides it’s hard to see past the well known Bristol to Bath cycle route, which makes for a great day out. To the southwest of the county though it’s also worth checking out the canal towpath between Taunton and Bridgewater for a lovely 14 mile family cycle. It also features a scale model of the solar system (with the sun in the middle of the route and the planets extending out to Pluto either side of it) for an educational slant to the route! Fans of road cycling are well served, with Exmoor, the Chew Valley, Avalon Marshes and Cheddar Gorge to name but a few. National Cycle Route 33 is also a great option, running from Bristol to Axminster, with a lovely coastal section between Western-Super-Mare and Bridgewater. See more Cycling in Somerset
canoeing and kayaking in somerset

Canoeing and Kayaking in Somerset

Taunton is perhaps the place to head for a family friendly paddle, with the Taunton and Bridgewater Canal and the River Tone both offering some nice gentle paddling opportunities. In Bristol itself the City Docks play host to a huge range of watersports activities, with kayaking and canoeing featured prominently, whilst the River Avon also provides plenty of opportunity for a leisurely paddle in a more rural environment just a short distance outside the city centre. In Exmoor the River Barle is the largest river that flows through the National Park and is classed as a grade 2-3 river, meaning less experienced paddlers should only go out with supervision or under instruction. The Barle is one of the more scenic rivers you are likely to paddle, being also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its important wildlife that includes salmon, otters, kingfisher, dipper and the very rare river jelly lichen. This does mean that kayaking is only permitted downstream of Tarr Steps, and only between 15th October and 31st March when levels are high enough.
climbing and outdoor activities in somerset

Climbing In Somerset

Bristol itself has much to offer, with crags, gorges and quarries. In addition to a great variety of indoor climbing walls, Bristol has almost 3000 climbing routes packed into the wider city area. In the immediate city area there’s the Avon Gorge, which offers fantastic climbs of up to 80m within minutes of leaving the city itself. Close by to the city climbers also have the picturesque valleys of the River Trym and River Frome. Cheddar Gorge - the largest gorge in the UK - is home to one of the country’s most famous climbs (Coronation Street), and there’s some great sea cliff climbing between tides at the cliffs between Portishead and Brean Down. Guiding and instruction are available. See more Climbing In Somerset
watersports and outdoor activities in somerset

Other Watersports and Paddleboarding In Somerset

Similar to canoeing there are some lovely gentle inlands options along the Taunton Canal, the River Tone from Taunton, and the Bristol docks and the River Avon near Bristol too. If you’d like to get out on the sea there are also opportunities from Minehead, and a stunning coastline to explore from Porlock Bay, both of which are served by local activity providers offering lessons and hire. See more for Paddle Boarding in Somerset

Other Fun Things To Do In Somerset

  • Horse Riding: there are many riding schools scattered across the county, with some great opportunities to explore places like Exmoor and the Quantock HIlls by horseback.
  • Fun Adventures: other outdoor activities include high ropes courses, wild swimming, paintball, karting, or even taking your own barge out along the canal.
  • Caving - Somerset has some spectacular cave networks, and is one of the UK’s most prominent sites for caving. Definitely not for the claustrophobic, this involves exploring the underground network of passages and caves beneath the surface, often squeezing through tight gaps, abseiling sections and - for the really adventurous - submerging yourself in flooded sections to reach the next tunnel! Goatchurch Cavern at Burrington is fantastic option for a first go, with additional venues at Swildon’s Hole near Priddy, which offers both wet and dry passages and some spectacular formations to see too.
The show caves at Wookey Hole also house an adventure experience involving abseiling and underground via ferrata.
  • Cultural Outdoor Activities: if you’d like to learn a little something whilst enjoying some stunning scenery, why not try a photography or painting course, or get really close to nature with a foraging course or bushcraft survival day!

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